Potsdam United Methodist Church
Where we let Jesus shine! Where we invite, love and nurture ALL!
Sunday Worship
11:00am Service
12:00pm Fellowship
Pastor Rev. Brooke Newell
Secretary Donna McDonald
315-265-7474

Family Share Plan

Listen to the Sermon or the Entire Service

June 2nd:

June 2, 2013
Call:    Luke 10: 25-28
Text:    Acts 4: 32-37; 5: 1-11
Read: W&S 196

            Family Share Plan

It was just the other night when I told a wedding couple that
I had learned a lot more about marriage
      From my experiences as a lawyer
      Dealing divorcing and divorced people.
   Than from my experiences as a pastor marrying couples

For what is needed for success in marriage
   Is most obvious when it is missing

And what I believe is needed in marriage is
   Love, respect, sharing, and commitment.

Love and respect are obvious.
   Sharing a bit less

But commitment is an unpopular word
   in this fast changing world of innumerable options where,
with regularity people switch
hairdressers and phone companies
   And whose minds seem to have been reprogrammed to
      Self-indulgently want the newest and the most distinctive.

In a marriage, if either party is not committed
   To keeping love alive
   To willingly share responsibilities, power, and possessions
Or To continue to respect and earn the other's respect
The marriage will not be successful

While that doesn't necessarily mean splitting up
   it does mean that it won't do what it could have done
      If the necessary commitment had been present.

But I share that observation and use the example of marriage
Only because our relationship
   with Christ    with the church      and within the church
is very much like a marriage
for the very same things are needed
for a church to be successful.

Now, the church has many levels:
   The universal
Which includes all Christian denominations
   The denominational
      Which for us includes all UMC congregations
And   The congregational - Which is most visibly us
      Including those not with us this morning
         For health, transportation, or other reasons.

And at each of those levels if it is to be successful
   The church needs love
   The church needs respect
The church needs sharing
and   The church requires commitment

If either - or any - party is not committed
   To keeping that love alive
   To willingly share responsibilities, power, and possessions
Or To continue to respect others and earn the respect of others

The church will not be successful

That doesn't necessarily mean coming apart at the seams.
   But it does mean that we won't do what we could have done.
      If there had been the necessary commitment.

And that is where our scripture from Acts comes in

This morning's scripture is about the early church.
   But we read it    to learn about today's church

As we do so, however,
   We need to remember our call to worship from Luke's gospel
      where, in a different take
than the one Matthew uses to tell the story,
the man talking with Christ said
that to inherit eternal life one must
         Love the Lord your God with all your heart,
and with all your soul,
and with all your strength,
and with all your mind

And your neighbor as yourself,

And Jesus replied,
   "You have given the right answer,
   Do this and you will live."

With that as the prelude to the story,
we now hear about the early church  [Acts 4: 32-37]

Luke tells us that the whole group of those who believed
   Were of one heart.
Luke tells us that the whole group of those who believed
   Were of one soul.
Luke does not tell us that the whole group of those who believed
   Were of one mind     Or of one strength.
This was not an homogeneous group
   They had their disagreements
   Some were stronger than others

But   What they had in common was that they had given
their hearts and their souls to Christ.

They were committed to living and serving, and sacrificing
   As Christ had taught them
      With lives of love and respect for God
      With lives of love and respect for each other

They were committed to living and serving, and sacrificing
   By sharing with each other and with others.
      Opportunities and responsibilities
      Gifts, resources, and ideas
      Authority and power
      Time and energy
      Trust and honesty

They were like the family share plans some have for their cell phones
   A limited number of minutes or gigabytes
   To be used among two or more people

If one member of the family share group
uses a disproportionate amount   the others will suffer

And that was the case in the family of the early church as well.

That is why Luke tells us the jarring story of Ananias and Sapphira
   Right after the story of the sharing and committed Christians
      And of Barnabas selling his property
      To give money to the church
[5: 1-11]
As I read this story, I first ask two questions

Question number One:
Who am I more like:
Barnabas or Ananias?

Question number Two:
   Who are the people in this congregation more like?

This story - and those questions - are not about money
   They are about attitude
   They are about commitment and priority

For Ananias was not punished for keeping a portion of the proceeds of the liquidation of his asset
   He was punished for his lack of honesty
   About having done so

And Sapphira who knew what was going on
Was punished only when she refused to come clean when given a chance

They were in a family share plan
   And when they gobbled up the minutes and the gigabytes
   They lied about it.

Their commitment was to themselves
   Not to God
   Not to Christ's church and the people who made it up

They did not love God with all they were
And they didn't love their neighbors as themselves.

Do we?

Do we love and respect God
   When things are going bad?    Or do we blame God?
Do we love and respect God
   When things are going well?   Or do we claim credit?

Do we love and respect each other
   When we disagree
      With worship style or ministry?
Do we love and respect each other
   When we want to hold on to power
      Instead of sharing it with newer members of our community?

How committed are we?
   To our relationship with God?
To our relationship with Christ's church?
To our relationship with the congregation
   And the people who make it up?

Again I ask myself - and suggest you ask yourselves:

Who am I more like:     Barnabas or Ananias?
   Who are you more like?

But I guess we only really ask one question,
   "Is our commitment to Jesus Christ strong enough
that are we willing to share, to serve, and to sacrifice?"

For those, along with love and respect, are requirements you and I accepted
   When we signed up for God's family share plan.